Iran urges all Afghan groups to come together for sake of peace

Iran has called on Afghan groups to use the U.S. withdrawal as an opportunity to restore peace to their homeland, saying Afghanistan’s history shows that there is no military solution to its crises.

“While inviting all sides to maintain stability, we hope that the groups will make the most of the opportunity of the withdrawal of trans-regional forces to establish an inclusive government, while maintaining good relations with Afghanistan’s neighbours,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said during a press conference on Monday according to Press TV.

Iran seems to have taken a pragmatic approach to the victory of the Taliban, having previously been at odds with the Sunni Muslim movement. Tehran used to be a backer of the U.S.-installed government in Kabul.

Khatibzadeh said Iran is ready to cooperate on facilitating dialogue in the war-torn country and emphasised the need to protect the lives of Afghan people as well as the rights of women there.

The current situation, he said, has unleashed a new wave of refugees, which calls for continued humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.

“The U.S. came to Afghanistan as an aggressor. Its entry into Afghanistan was tragic and its departure was disgraceful. This is a historic lesson for all, showing that the U.S., rather than bringing peace and security, has wreaked havoc wherever it has gone,” Khatibzadeh said.

“Videos coming out of Afghanistan make everyone’s heart bleed. It is a historical shame for those who claim to champion human rights. Right now, they have only kept their mouths shut except for justifying their aggression.”

Meanwhile, Iran restarted exports of gasoline and gasoil to Afghanistan a few days ago following a request from the Taliban, Iran’s Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Products Exporters’ Union said on Monday.

The price of gasoline in Afghanistan reached $900 per tonne last week as many panicked Afghans drove out of cities. To counter the price spike, the new Taliban government asked Iran to keep the borders open for traders.

“The Taliban sent messages to Iran saying ‘you can continue the exports of petroleum products’,” Hamid Hosseini, board member and spokesperson at the Iranian union in Tehran, told Reuters, adding that some Iranian traders had been cautious due to security concerns.

The main Iranian exports to Afghanistan are gasoline and gasoil. Iran exported about 400,000 tonnes of fuel to its neighbour from May 2020 to May 2021, according to a report published by PetroView, an Iranian oil and gas research and consultancy platform.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are 780,000 registered Afghan refugees residing in Iran as of October 2020, most of whom were born and raised in Iran during the last four decades. There are also about 586,000 other Afghans residing in the country.

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